BRICS Summit Portends New Era of Cooperation and Development for Africa and the World

July 27, 2018

Lavrov Welcomes South Africa’s Initiative for Africa at BRICS Summit

July 26, 2018–In an article in the South African magazine {Ubuntu}, published by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said “we support further strengthening of the sovereignty of African countries, their independent choice of the way of development while preserving national distinctiveness….

Sub-Saharan Africa is the most dynamically developing region of the planet, which plays a key role in world mineral and hydrocarbon markets, a broad and rapid-growing consumer market, and one of the most attractive investment areas,” Lavrov said, according to Moscow Foreign Ministry website.

Pointing out that BRICS-Africa Partnership that was launched during South Africa’s 2013 BRICS chairmanship is steadily developing, Lavrov said “we welcome special attention paid by Pretoria to Africa-related issues in the work of BRICS. This area of work is becoming increasingly important for Russian foreign policy as well. Russia has significantly contributed to decolonization processes and the rise of new independent states on the continent.”

Sergey Lavrov: BRICS a Stabilizing Factor in Global Affairs; Focus on Africa is Key

July 25, 2018-An article published in South Africa’s {Ubuntu} magazine, prior to the BRICS summit, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov noted the symbolism of the BRICS returning to Africa in 2018, the  100th  anniversary of the birth of Nelson Mandela,– “a prominent political and public figure on a global scale.”

Mandela contributed personally to establishing friendly relations between South Africa and Russia, he recalled, making possible today’s “high-level of a comprehensive strategic partnership.”

Lavrov particularly praised South Africa’s leadership in the BRICS, -“special attention paid by Pretoria to Africa-related issues,” that has become especially important for Russia’s foreign policy. “We support  further  strengthening of the sovereignty of African countries, their independent choice of the way of development while preserving national distinctiveness.”

Of special importance, Lavrov added, is that BRICS countries will foster cooperation with other associations and consolidate positions in international organizations to present a “united front.” The invitation to Argentina, Indonesia and Turkey, plus other African nations, to attend the July 25-27 summit reflects the BRICS-Plus initiative, he explained. “Thus we will expand the global reach of the Group and establish an outer circle of like-minded countries. In this regard, BRICs has good potential to become a unique platform for linking various integration processes in a flexible way.”

Coordination between BRICS and other major international organizations is crucial, Lavrov underscored, since consolidation of efforts “is a key to ensuring world stability and a way to settle serious conflicts.” He particularly referenced how the BRICS-Africa Partnership has advanced since 2013. At the current summit, “a special
outreach session will be held with the participation of the heads of State presiding over regional organizations of the continent in order to focus on its most relevant issues,” he said.

Why India Is Keen To Invest in Africa with China: An Overview

July 26, 2018–Ahead of the 10th BRICS Summit, China’s President Xi Jinping and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi had embarked on tours through some African countries. Xi, arriving in South Africa on July 24, pledged $14.7 billion of investment in the country. During a less-than-24 hour visit on July 24, Modi pledged $205 million to Uganda. The sum is intended to help the East African country to develop its dominant agricultural sector and electricity distribution infrastructure.

Both Xi and Modi were in Rwanda earlier this week, where a total of over $300 million was announced in loans. The money will develop the tiny, landlocked East African nation’s agriculture, roads and special economic zones, CNBC reported.

In recent years, both China and India, which have been widely labeled in the West as rivals, have brought to African nations their focus on all-round development, investing to improve their infrastructure, agriculture, education, and technological skills, among other areas.

The reasons why they chose to cooperate and collaborate in Africa’s development are many. For instance, the African nations are most receptive to all actual developmental efforts, large or small. Because of the needs of the African nations, which had all along been looked at only as sources for natural resources consumed by developed nations, every bit of investment made in these nations has a positive effect and is welcomed. China and India consider that providing Africa the ability to develop will bring about a sea-change in the direction and magnitude of global trade.

India is keen to expand its economic relations mostly with Southeast Asia and Africa. For China and India, Africa does not pose any geopolitical threat. Moreover, the better understanding developed between Xi and Modi since their Wuhan meeting last April, enables both of them to work in tandem to improve the living conditions in Africa.

Putin BRICS Remarks Imply Need for New Monetary System

July 26, 2018–Very brief remarks delivered by Russia’s President Putin at the Johannesburg BRICS Summit today (apparently after a leadership meeting), implicitly point to the need for a new monetary system, and the basis which has been created for such a system in the cooperative banks, funds and institutions created by the BRICS, the Belt and Road and China, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Putin’s statement dealt with this. He said:

“We view positively the activities of the [BRICS] Council to implement joint multilateral projects. It is necessary to conduct these activities in close cooperation with the [BRICS] New Development Bank. It is important that the business community should help enhance the Bank’s loan portfolio. “The New Development Bank has considerably expanded its operations as of late. Members of the Board of Directors have approved 21 projects worth over $1 billion, including five that will be implemented in Russia.

“We support the idea of opening regional offices of the Bank. Talks are underway with Brazil on this issue. Hopefully, the possibility of opening the Russian office will be discussed after the talks.

“The establishment of the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement [to support countries under balance-of-payments pressure] deserves praise, and this has become an important mechanism for the prompt financing of our countries’ banking sector…

“In 2017, we met in Xiamen [China] and decided to establish the BRICS Local Currency Bond Fund. This is very important for the development of the financial systems of our states. Therefore, the Fund’s timely initial operations, due to commence in 2019, serve the interests of BRICS.”

BRICS Could be an Alternative Model of Development to Western Dominance

July 25, 2018–In a July 25 article published on the website of the Valdai Discussion Club, entitled “Brics and the World Order,” Georgy Toloraya suggests that the current BRICS grouping, plus other nations that form part of the “BRICS-Plus” structure (not official members) could offer the world “an alternative model of socio-economic development, differing from the West” that is based on “mechanisms of a liberal market or profit gaining…that assumes the dominance of the West.”

Toloraya is the Executive Director  of the Russian National Committee for BRICS Research. He debunks arguments that the BRICS is just a “China-centered structure,” intended only to promote China’s interests or its Belt and Road Initiative. These accusations, he notes, “are very sly statements. The Chinese factor is only one of the BRICS development facets.”

In today’s “turbulent global situation,” Toloraya adds, it is especially important that the BRICS “common denominator” grows. Why? In contrast to the G7, BRICS expresses a “touching unanimity, which is not faked. This is not a mutiny on the ship we see with the G7, when the captain led to one direction while the crew wants to go to another one.” By the time Russia takes over the chairmanship of the group in 2020, he notes, BRICS “could become a united center of the multipolar world…Now BRICS creates its own structure of global governance, and it must develop in that direction. I do not know, whether that could be accomplished in the context of growing counteraction from the West, but we have to keep working.”

Because the BRICS is a global organization, Toloraya concludes, “these five leading ascendant powers could create a world order that will be more just and balanced than what we see now.” It may not expand yet, but “what we see in the BRICS+ format, which is involving the largest countries that are not the group’s members, but show interest in it, is a significant step towards increasing the BRICS value and making this union a representative of the greater part of humanity.” On the eve of the Johannesburg summit, he concludes, BRICS is not {against}, but {for}: for just economic development conditions, for sustainable development concept centered on human beings.”

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